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 The Church provides powerful help to persons who are dying. Most importantly, she obliges her children to seek the Sacraments of Penance, anointing of the sick and viaticum (Holy Communion given at the point of death) as food for the eternal journey. She obliges her priests to ensure that the faithful in their care are not deprived of an opportunity to receive the grace of the Sacraments mentioned above.

 In addition to these Sacraments, there is a little known, but important, plenary indulgence that is granted to the dying. Administered by a priest, it is called the "Apostolic Pardon", or "Apostolic Blessing". The Handbook of Indulgences says this forcefully: "Priests who minister the sacraments to the Christian faithful who are in a life-and-death situation should not neglect to impart to them the apostolic blessing, with its attached indulgence.”

 The Handbook of Indulgences says the following when a priest is not available to the dying person: "If a priest cannot be present, holy mother Church lovingly grants such persons, who are rightly disposed, a plenary indulgence to be obtained in articulo mortis, at the approach of death, provided they regularly prayed in some way during their lifetime." Note the two conditions: The dying person must be "rightly disposed" and have "regularly prayed". Even more simply, the dying person should have desired this indulgence--and prayed for it! No doubt, this can be accomplished in many ways, (i.e., Nine First Fridays, Five First Saturdays).

 We should pray for the Apostolic Pardon for our self and for others. 


 We should also pray for the sick, suffering and dying. They become the holy souls! Mercy on them will bring us also the crowning mercy of a holy death. Venerable Bishop Fulton Sheen said, “As we enter heaven, we will see them, so many of them, coming towards us. We will ask who they are and they will say:  ‘A poor soul in purgatory you prayed for.’”

Source: Signs and Wonders for Our Times Special Issue/Summer 2022, ” The Anointing of the Sick and Apostolic Pardon - Don’t Leave Earth with out it”, by Susan Tassone


 In summary, the apostolic pardon is the means by which the Church’s treasury of merit can be applied to us in our last hour, when we do not have much time on this side of eternity to make the reparation required. For the sake of peace for our loved ones, we should ask for this grace from Holy Mother Church, in the unlikely event that the priest administering the last rites does not offer it.


Two apostolic pardon prayers that explain what it imparts:


 “Through the holy mysteries of our redemption, may Almighty God release you from all punishments in this life and in the life to come. May he open the gates of paradise and welcome you to everlasting joy.”


 “By the authority which the Apostolic See has given me, I grant you a full pardon and the remission of all your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”



National Catholic Register, “Apostolic Pardon Brings Total Forgiveness Before Death” by Patty Maguire Armstrong, and EWTN


Zenit Daily Dispatch, Indulgences at the Point of Death, by Father Edward McNamara, LC, October 13, 2013, and EWTN



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